International Security: Journal Highlights
Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Vol. 36 No. 3; Winter 2011/12
"Unrest Assured: Why Unipolarity Is Not Peaceful"
Nuno P. Monteiro
For thirteen of the twenty-two years since becoming the world’s sole great power, the United States has been at war. Still, the theory that unipolarity is peaceful prevails. A great power war is clearly impossible in a world with only one great power, but extending the analysis to major and minor powers shows a high risk of conflict. In fact, the potential for war is inherent in each of the three grand strategies available to a unipole: defensive dominance, offensive dominance, and disengagement. To best minimize conflict, the great power must exhibit extreme restraint lest other states attempt to restrain it themselves.
"China's Century? Why America's Edge Will Endure"
The current hype that China is overtaking the United States is wrong. China is rising, but it is not catching up. Globalization and hegemony, often considered burdens, are actually helping the United States maintain its edge by allowing it to reap financial advantages and manipulate the international system to its benefit. The United States should therefore continue to prop up the global economy and pursue a robust diplomatic and military presence abroad.
"Climate Wars? Assessing the Claim That Drought Breeds Conflict"
Ole Magnus Theisen, Helge Holtermann, and Halvard Buhaug
Climate change will most likely impose great hardships on Africa’s agrarian societies in the coming years, but new research suggests that, despite current thought, it will not increase the likelihood of civil war. The concern that scarcity will breed conflict is understandable, but the data show that civil war is more highly correlated with other factors, such as high infant mortality, proximity to international borders, and high local population density. Climate shocks are certain to increase the suffering of marginalized societies in other ways, which makes it all the more important that we do not militarize the issue lest fear limit immigration and relief efforts.
"Present at the Creation: Edward Mead Earle and the Depression-Era Origins of Security Studies"
Security studies is commonly thought to have emerged as a response to the Cold War, but its roots reach much further back. Historian Edward Mead Earle and his colleagues first addressed the problem of security to cope with the unraveling of the international order in the 1930s. Earle was instrumental in paving the way for security studies as it exists today, laying the foundations for an important discipline that seeks to combine history, economics, and political science to build bridges between the government and academia and use scientific inquiry to inform policy and guide grand strategy.
"They Think They're Normal: Enduring Questions and New Research on North Korea—A Review Essay"
David C. Kang
The motivations of North Korea’s leaders and people have long been a mystery, frustrating policymakers who must decide whether to pursue a relationship with the government or attempt to isolate the rogue state, but new literature reveals that the North Korean people and their government operate more normally than most people think. This literature also suggests that policies designed to minimize North Korea’s military threat may hurt efforts to improve the lives of its citizens and vice versa. Given this difficulty and the recent regime change, efforts to understand North Korea before making and implementing policy decisions are more important than ever.
Compiled by International Security staff
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